December 29, 2021

New Year's Eve party checklist

Planning a New Year's Eve party? Fortunately, you can ensure a successful (and relatively COVID-safe) get-together and pull off your merrymaking without a hitch by following best practices recommended by the pros.

Learn more by reading my newest article for CTW Features, found here, and happy (early) New Year!

December 15, 2021

It's a wonderful podcast

In Cineversary podcast episode #42, host Erik Martin honors the 75th anniversary of It's a Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra, by interviewing Jeanine Basinger, the recently retired film studies professor at Wesleyan University and the author of The It’s A Wonderful Life Book. Together, they take the scenic route to Bedford Falls and explore why the film is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the movie in 2021, and more. This episode also features a conversation between Erik and Tom Lucas, vice president of studio relations for Fathom Events, the entertainment content provider that brings classic movies back to the big screen for anniversary rereleases; Tom reveals Fathom's theatrical anniversary slate for 2022.
Jeanine Basinger and Tom Lucas


To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

Guilt-free grab-bagging (without the guesswork)

It’s easy to blow your budget on holiday presents quickly, especially if you have a large family or band of friends with whom you exchange. After all, part of the joy of the season is getting gifts for those you care about. But that list of recipients can fast outpace your ability to afford wrapped goodies for all of them.

Thankfully, there’s a time-tested method that groups can pursue that is not only designed to save money and ensure that every holiday party attendee goes home with a present, but one that will add fun and excitement to the festivities: create a gift exchange via either a white elephant game or secret Santa strategy. Learn more by reading my newest piece for CTW Features, available here.

December 5, 2021

Gear up and get in tune

Eating your vegetables, exercising, and getting good sleep have their perks. But another helpful way to keep your mind sharp, decrease stress, and feel content is to strum a six-string, tickle the ivories, toot a tune, or strike a snare. Because the secret to feeling young and happy, say the experts, is to practice and play music, regardless of your age.

Discover more about the benefits of learning or relearning a musical instrument by reading my newest article for The Costco Connection magazine, available here.

December 1, 2021

Shoppable TV: What is it, and why do companies need it?

As consumers, we’ve been long conditioned to look at television as more than a mere entertainment and informational device. As the enduring popularity of QVC and the Home Shopping Network has demonstrated for decades, watchers often covet the goods and products they see on screen, which creates a fantastic opportunity for savvy marketers to capitalize on, provided they partner with the right technology and outlets.

In recent years, a confluence of events has ushered in a new era of shoppable TV, including technological innovation and advancements, a shift in consumer buying behavior from brick-and-mortar retail to online e-commerce, and the increasing consumer adoption of streaming and on-demand convenience capabilities via smartphones and smart televisions – trends that have been accelerated due to the pandemic. Exciting new sales opportunities are now available to brands and companies that, with the right planning and execution, are poised to benefit from the burgeoning growth and acceptance of shoppable TV.

Discover more about shoppable TV and why it's due to explode in the coming years by reading my newest article for Destination CRM, available here.

November 22, 2021

How Santa stole Thanksgiving

November is still a month firmly entrenched in autumn, a season dominated by hues like orange, brown, black and yellow. But look closely outdoors around your block and you’ll likely see snatches of green, red and white, too – colors connoted with December. It’s a phenomenon known as “Christmas creep,” a holiday decorating drift that seems to be taking root earlier every year: even prior to Thanksgiving.

In fact, research shows that many folks prefer to put up their Christmas tree and festoon their homes with holiday decor ahead of turkey day; a survey conducted by Christmas Lights, Etc. in 2015 found that 43 percent of Christmas consumers start decorating before Thanksgiving week. While that may seem ridiculously early to some, consider that psychologists suggest that decking the halls earlier can actually make you happier.

Read more on this topic by checking out my latest article for CTW Features, available here.

November 17, 2021

The sun never sets on this classic

In Cineversary podcast episode #41, host Erik Martin celebrates the 70th anniversary of A Place in the Sun, directed by George Stevens, by interviewing two great guests: George Stevens Jr., son of the director, founder of the American Film Institute, and author of the forthcoming book My Place in the Sun; and David Thomson, revered film critic and historian, author of numerous books on cinema including A Light in the Dark, and a frequent contributor to The Criterion Collection. Together, they examine why A Place in the Sun is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the film in 2021, and more.
To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com
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November 10, 2021

Home appraisal come in low? Here's how to salvage the deal

If you are seeking to purchase a home, your mortgage lender will likely require you to have the home professionally appraised and pay for this appraisal, which can cost a few hundred dollars. The appraisal is conducted by an expert who will determine the value of the property based on a visual tour, recent sales of comparable properties, today’s market trends, and other factors.

Problem is, the appraiser may determine that the home for sale is worth less than what the seller is asking for it. A low appraisal in a hot market can result in the deal falling through. But it’s possible to make the transaction work if you and the seller work together and make compromises. Learn more about why appraisals sometimes come back lower-than-expected, why the appraisal is important to the lender, and what you can do if you get a less-than-desirable appraisal by reading my latest article for Home.com, available here.

November 3, 2021

Word up

Real-time captioning – also called computer-assisted real-time translations (CART) – is often taken for granted as a readily available means to textually supplement speech as it is spoken in real-time, in a medium like video. But for the spoken word to be more quickly and precisely translated in a live context, that ability requires a lot of technological innovation. Problem is, while real-time captioning (RTC) has made strides, the end product often can’t live up to modern expectations or increased demand from content consumers across devices who anticipate 100 percent accurate and instantaneous captioning.

But while plenty of challenges remain, many experts agree that the pace of progress has been impressive in recent years, especially considering how far we’ve come from the early and more primitive days of RTC. Indeed, taking a big picture look, the future appears as bright as a luminous white subtitle emblazoned across the bottom of your screen.

To learn more about how real-time captioning has improved online, and future progress we hope to see, read my article on this topic, freshly published by Speech Technology Magazine, clicking here.

October 26, 2021

Pushing PR to techies

Got a new product, service, event, or announcement that you want to shout about from the mountaintops? Unfortunately, getting the attention of technology journalists and associated media and promoting your tech-related news isn’t easy these days. That’s because there are a lot of PR experts angling to do the same thing, and technology reporters, publishers, and influencers are bombarded with messages on virtually every platform they subscribe to.

So how does a PR, marketing, sales, communications, IT, or product manager cleave through the clutter, connect with the right correspondent, and create better awareness of their new offering, brand, or latest information? Very carefully, the experts agree.

Learn more about how to design a PR strategy that will reach targeted tech pros by reading my article on this topic for new client M2T, available here.

October 19, 2021

Important final steps before you walk into homeownership

You’re preparing to close on a home purchase and getting excited about moving in. But there’s an important step you’ll need to take before the transaction is completed: a final walk-through before closing. This personal inspection can ensure that the property you have committed to on paper is in relatively identical condition to when you first visited it and that the seller is compliant with terms of your real estate contract.

Learn more about what’s involved with this process and what should be included on your final walk-through checklist by reading my article on this topic, published recently in the Chicago Tribune.

October 13, 2021

It's still alive! Celebrate Frankenstein's 90th birthday with Cineversary

 In Cineversary podcast episode #40, host Erik Martin has a monster of an interview with Boris Karloff's daughter Sara Karloff and David Skal, a highly respected horror film historian and author of the book Fright Favorites. Together, they commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1931 Universal horror classic Frankenstein, examining why the film is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the movie in 2021, and more.

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.








Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com

October 11, 2021

How much is your home worth?

Planning to sell your house soon? Seeking to tap into your home’s equity? Looking to lower your property taxes? If so, you’re likely wondering: How much is my house worth?

It’s smart to keep tabs on your home’s valuation and value in the market – even if none of the above scenarios apply. Fortunately, there are several home value estimator tools and resources you can use to get at least a rough idea of what your home—or a property you’re eyeing—is currently worth. Just be prepared to find variation in your research. Home valuation experts, websites and other sources use different data and formulas in determining your property’s worth, with some being more accurate than others.

Want more tips on this topic? Read my newest piece for Bankrate, available here.

October 5, 2021

Get your home Halloween on

Hear that? It’s the soon-to-be-supplied sound of costumed candy-seekers parading up to your front door and ringing the bell. Yes, you’ll likely be well stocked with plenty of sweet treats. But is your overall property prepared for the festivities? Have you given any thought to creepy curb appeal? Is your front porch festooned with ghoulish d├ęcor and your yard properly populated with props and pumpkins?

Your trick-or-treating days may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your inner Chucky and bring some needed Halloween spirit to your abode. For tips on how to festively adorn your residence with spooky decor, read my article on this topic (which actually published two years ago) in The Dallas Morning News here.

September 28, 2021

7 mistakes to avoid before buying a home

Despite your best intentions and degree of financial literacy, it’s possible to make regrettable mistakes prior to purchasing a home. Some missteps are bigger than others, but all can cost you in the form of more expensive mortgage financing or – worst of all – a denied loan.

When you are preparing to claim a home and obtain a mortgage loan, it’s crucial to position yourself as a favorable borrower candidate who demonstrates creditworthiness and good financial common sense. Problem is, being human means we are prone to make mistakes, even at the worst possible time.

Take the time to understand and avoid common errors that can result in serious borrower remorse.
Read about the seven mistakes that can cost you when buying a house, my latest topic for The Mortgage Reports, available here.

September 20, 2021

Taking the scenic (and surreal) route across Mulholland Drive

For Cineversary podcast episode #39, host Erik Martin tackles a tantalizing but tricky cinematic text, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which celebrates a 20th anniversary this year. Joining Erik this month are two terrific guests: Dennis Lim, director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and author of the book David Lynch: The Man From Another Place; and Chris Rodley, a UK-based filmmaker and editor of the book Lynch on Lynch. Erik, Dennis, and Chris claim a front-row seat at Club Silencio as they attempt to make sense of the movie and examine why Mulholland Drive is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the movie in 2021, and more.

Dennis Lim
Chris Rodley
To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast. Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.


September 13, 2021

Even a lingering pandemic can't kill Halloween


In 2020, Midnight Terror Haunted House in Oak Lawn, Illinois, proved that a commercial haunted attraction could operate safely and successfully, despite the pandemic—and without compromising on scares. Fans rewarded that commitment to quality by coming out in droves and selling out most dates on the calendar, with no resulting cases of coronavirus reported.

This year, Midnight Terror plans to up the fright factor by going bigger and better than ever for its seventh consecutive season while also implementing COVID-19 safety precautions. It will nearly double the number of days on its schedule from last year, operating across a record 22 dates beginning Sept. 24 and ending Oct. 31. Additionally, Chicagoland’s favorite Halloween destination will add more actors, animatronic props, rooms, and special effects to its labyrinth layout, which boasts two connecting haunts under its roof, each with a different theme but both included with a paid ticket.

Read my latest story for Patch.com on this commercial haunted attraction by clicking here.

September 8, 2021

RCM: A modern Rx for maintenance

Traditionally, most hospitals have maintained their equipment per manufacturer recommendations or some form of preventive or scheduled maintenance based on regulatory or equipment need. Problem is, these approaches do not address a system’s need to be managed for minimum failure as opposed to the failure of a system’s components.

The solution? Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), an organizational-level strategy that can enhance the maintenance program in a facility by following four key principles: (1) preserve system function; (2) identify failure modes that can impact system function; (3) prioritize the failure modes; and (4) choose suitable and effective tasks to control the failure modes.

RCM as a concept started snowballing in 1960, when the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry studied why conventional maintenance approaches were inadequate for contemporary aircraft. They determined that many equipment failures could not be prevented or reduced by simply abiding by the “right age” principle, which espoused that every piece of complex equipment has an ideal time at which complete overhaul is needed to ensure reliability and safety. Before long, RCM principles and best practices—which called for balancing resources used with the inherent reliability expected of a given piece of equipment—were put into practice by the military and health care industry.

Learn more about RCM and its effectiveness in health care settings by reading my latest article for Health Facilities Management, available here

August 30, 2021

You bought the house--so when do you get the keys?

The day you found your home was an important one. The day you chose to purchase the home was also a big day on the calendar. But the closing day is arguably the most crucial date in the homebuying process. That’s when you sign your closing documents and make things official.

But that’s not necessarily when you get your keys and begin moving into the home. There are actually two key terms and concepts to better understand here: funding date vs. closing date. Learn the difference between these two by reading my latest article for Home.com, available here.

August 18, 2021

Picture perfect on its golden anniversary

 

For Cineversary podcast episode #38, host Erik Martin welcomes back Barna Donovan, film professor at Saint Peter’s University and author of several books on the cinema, including Blood, Guns, and Testosterone: Action Films, Audiences, and a Thirst for Violence, and Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious. Erik and Barna revisit the Royal Theater, turn that dusty old projector on, and examine Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show as it prepares to celebrate a 50th anniversary this autumn, exploring why the film is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the film in 2021, and more.
Barna Donovan

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

August 17, 2021

Hopes on the horizon

This year, approximately 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women are expected to be breast cancers. That’s a sobering thought. But also consider that breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. started to decrease beginning in 2000 after two previous decades of increases. In fact, the rate of death from breast cancer has decreased from 40% between 1989 and 2017.

This slowdown in new breast cancer cases can be attributed to several factors, including increased awareness of the need for a healthier diet and lifestyle. But it’s the latest screening methods, techniques, tools, and treatments that have helped matters considerably, as well.

Learn more about the newest research, tools, and treatment approaches to detect and fight breast cancer by reading my latest article for CTW Features, available here.

August 8, 2021

Hollywood builds a house

Superhero movies inspire our imaginations to soar above the clouds. Science-fiction features tantalize with their futuristic prospects of technological innovation. And fantasy films bring out the hidden adventurer in us all, arousing bravery in the pursuit of an impossible quest.

But it’s flicks about fixer-uppers and homes being built in the real world that may prove to motivate us more in the long run, many believe. The reason? We can better relate to these challenging housing endeavors undertaken by serious and comedic characters alike in a variety of motion pictures. Been there, done that is the takeaway by plenty of viewers, while yet-to-be homeowners consider the cautionary tales to be learned from some of these home improvement and construction projects depicted by Hollywood.

I recently wrote an article recommending several films focused on home improvement and construction, published in the Dallas Morning News, available here.

August 3, 2021

Got one of these coveted outdoor features? Your home may fetch a higher price

If you’re preparing to sell a home, you’re sitting pretty right now. Shopper demand is through the roof, many offers are resulting in bidding wars, and low inventory continues to stack the deck against buyers.

But you’re in a particularly favorable spot if your property also boasts alfresco amenities that are currently popular with buyers. In fact, your home may sell more speedily and/or at a higher price if your outdoor features check the right boxes.

Based on a recent Zillow report, the following family-friendly exterior features are contributing to residences selling much more quickly than anticipated: a backyard (these listings sold 5.2 days faster than expected); a sandbox (4.5 days faster); or a playground (2.5 days). Listing keywords mentioning nearby parks, cul de sacs, walkable neighborhoods, and community pools can help a property sell between two and five days quicker than hoped, too.

Learn more about the most in-demand outdoor attractions included with homes for sale by reading my latest CTW Features article, published by the Dallas Morning News, available here.

July 28, 2021

You don't have to search far to find the finest western ever

Glenn Frankel
For Cineversary podcast episode #37, host Erik Martin teams up with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and film scholar Glenn Frankel, author of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, to honor the 65th anniversary of one of the greatest western of all time: The Searchers, directed by John Ford. Erik and Glenn probe deep into the dark psychological crevices of this celebrated but controversial American classic and investigate the myths and majesty of Ford's glorious western canvas as they explore why the film is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the film in 2021, and more.

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

July 20, 2021

Opt for an agent or go the FSBO route?

If you’re preparing to sell your home, you have an important question to answer: Do I need a real estate agent to sell my house? A skilled professional and the services he or she provides could help your home sell more quickly and for more money than if you try to do it on your own. Problem is, an agent may charge a hefty commission fee based on the sales price of your home.

If you choose the help of a real estate agent, you wouldn’t be alone: Nearly nine in 10 home sellers opt for the assistance of an agent, per the National Association of Realtors. But you could save money by going the for-sale-by-owner route if you’re well prepared and have the time.

Consider your needs and what’s involved carefully, and weigh the risks and rewards of relying on yourself versus an agent. For more advice, read my article on this topic recently published by Bankrate, available here.

July 12, 2021

Heir ye, heir ye: Load up on life insurance for your loved ones

If you want to safeguard your family's financial future in the event you pass away unexpectedly, it’s smart to buy life insurance. You can purchase a policy online or through an agent or broker, and the process isn’t as complicated as you may think.

Learn how to buy life insurance, what’s involved, and how to compare life insurance quotes by reading my newest article for Insure.com, available here. By performing your due diligence, you can likely save money on premiums and ensure a safety net for your beneficiaries that can give you priceless peace of mind.

July 5, 2021

Purchase a home off the beaten path


Having a hard time finding an affordable home? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a great financing option for first-time and repeat homebuyers: a USDA Section 502 guaranteed home loan. This generous mortgage loan is aimed at low- to moderate-income borrowers willing to purchase a property in eligible rural and suburban areas and who meet USDA loan qualifications. 

Consider the perks: USDA loans require no down payment, typically charge lower interest rates than other types of mortgage loans, and have no purchase price limits.

But it’s important to understand what’s involved with qualifying for a USDA loan. Take the time to learn more about eligibility requirements by reading my latest piece for Home.com, available here.

June 28, 2021

Ruling the printer/scanner roost

Bet you didn’t know that Epson, known for its printers and scanners, began life as a watchmaker – Seiko Corporation – in 1942 in Nagano, Japan. Odds are you also weren’t aware that Epson and its parent company are responsible for multiple technological innovations over the years: from creating the first handheld digital printer and scores of manufacturing robots to rolling out augmented reality smart glasses and a brand-new smart streaming laser projector.

Learn more about Epson and its history by reading my profile on the printer giant, my latest article for The Costco Connection magazine, available here.

June 17, 2021

Still Jonesing for adventure 4 decades later


In Cineversary podcast episode #36, host Erik Martin is joined by James Kendrick, Baylor University film professor and author of Darkness in the Bliss-Out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the greatest action/adventure movie of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Together, Erik and James explore deep and dark caves, pits, tombs, and catacombs of conversation in their analysis of Raiders, examining why the film is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the film in 2021, and more. 

James Kendrick

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

June 7, 2021

Hub how-to

Consult Gartner’s glossary and you’ll learn that a customer engagement hub (CEH) is an “architectural framework that ties multiple systems together to optimally engage the customer,” one that allows for personalized, contextual customer engagement, either via a human, artificial agent, or sensors, across all channels. 

Industry experts, on the other hand, equate a CEH to a personal butler for every customer the moment they walk in your store or visit your site.

Whatever the definition, CEHs have become increasingly popular for a simple reason: They centralize all customer interactions in a single, simplified customer experience, enabling synchronization across sales, marketing, and other departments to optimally engage patrons. Put another way, a well-planned and executed CEH is meant to make your old-fashioned contact center obsolete.

Learn more by reading my latest article for Destination CRM, available here.

May 31, 2021

When your doctor only takes dollars

You head to your doctor's office for a pressing medical need. But upon arriving you learn that he doesn't accept your health insurance plan. The out-of-pocket cost you'd have to pay is expensive. What should you do?

Truth is, many physicians don't accept certain forms of health insurance. In fact, plenty of doctors today choose to forego working with health insurance companies altogether and require cash payments from patients. For instance, consider that only 71% of doctors accepted Medicaid in 2019, per data from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

It's important to understand why many physicians are rejecting health insurance plans and requiring cash payments instead, as well as your options as a patient under the circumstances. Read my latest article for Insurance.com on this topic here.

May 24, 2021

FYI on IFS (and a new book I edited)

If you're a fan of the Disney/Pixar film Inside Out, you probably enjoyed the colorful personalities inhabiting the head of 11-year-old Riley, including Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. But before you dismiss this cute concept of components in our cranium as cartoonish or cloying, consider that more psychiatrists, therapists, and mental health experts are supporting the notion that we are each comprised of parts that help us cope with the myriad challenges we face in life.

One such methodology espousing this idea is Internal Family Systems (IFS). Dr. Frank Anderson, the lead trainer and program consultant for the IFS Institute, has just published a bookTranscending Traumathat explains how these parts work and how conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder can be successfully treated by tapping into these parts during talk therapy.

I had the pleasure of editing this tome for Dr. Anderson, which helped me learn more about IFS and its many merits. Learn more about the book and its author by clicking here.

May 16, 2021

Kane's reign now spans 80 years

In Cineversary podcast episode #35, host Erik Martin takes an extensive tour through Xanadu with three special guests to celebrate the 80th birthday of what many still consider to be the best film ever made: Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles, originally released in May 1941.

This king-sized installment features interviews with Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, TCM's senior director of original programming Scott McGee, and film historian, professor, and author Joseph McBride. Collectively, 
they examine why Citizen Kane is worth honoring all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the film today, and more. 

To listen to this episode, click 
here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.
Michael Phillips, Scott McGee, and Joseph McBride
Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

May 10, 2021

Putting vets on the fast track to homeownership

Many who have served this country proudly as a current or former member of the military are eager to purchase a home, possibly to start or relocate your family. Fortunately, the US Department of Veterans Affairs offers a valuable perk exclusively to them and others who qualify: a VA home loan, which can put these folks on the fast track to buying and owning a residence likely for much less money than they'd pay elsewhere. Plus, it’s easy to apply.

For the 411 on home financing via the VA, read my first piece for new client Home.com, available here.

May 5, 2021

Camp champ

COVID-19 postponed vacations for millions of Americans. But that didn’t stop camping enthusiasts, 46% of whom went on their first camping trip or first in years in 2020, per Kampgrounds of America data. In fact, nearly one in five new campers polled indicated they’re likely/very likely to continue camping this year.

One business that has benefited from this booming interest in outdoor adventuring is Core Equipment, whose camping products enjoyed a 75% sales increase last year. I interviewed CEO Nick Vaughn for an article that appears in the latest issue of The Costco Connection magazine, available here.

April 28, 2021

Can your home beat the heat?

Experts agree that it pays to think ahead and plan for recommended maintenance, repairs, and improvements well before your thermostat switches over from “heat” to “cool.” Many of the things you can do to keep your home cooler in the summer will also benefit you now while the weather is transitioning, allowing you to stay more comfortable year-round and conserve energy as well.

Learn valuable tips on how to beat the heat and keep your interiors cool as the weather warms up by reading my newest article for CTW Features, available here.

April 18, 2021

90 reasons why "M" still stands for "masterpiece"

In Cineversary podcast episode #34, host Erik Martin revisits Weimar Republic-era Germany to commemorate the 90th birthday of quite possibly that country's finest film export ever: Fritz Lang's M, originally released in May 1931 and starring Peter Lorre in his breakout performance as a serial killer of children. Accompanying Erik on this outing is Jan-Christopher Horakpast director of the UCLA film and television archive, former curator for the George Eastman Museum, previous director of archives/collections for Universal Studios, and longtime film scholar. Together, they investigate why M is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the film in 2021, and more.           
Jan-Christopher Horak

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreakerCastboxPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at anchor.fm/cineversary and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

April 12, 2021

Need to file a homeowners insurance claim? Read this first

Homeowners insurance by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free
There are many good reasons why you may want to file a homeowners insurance claim - from an injury that occurs on your property to a burglary to damage from the storm or fire.

But you want to make sure your claim is valid and covered, learn the deadline by which you have to file a claim and know what to expect after you file a claim. Reading your policy language carefully can yield crucial answers.

Many homeowners have questions about what's involved with the homeowners insurance claims process: How do home insurance claims work? How are homeowners insurance claims paid? And how long do homeowners insurance claims stay on your record? For answers, read my newest article for Insurance.com, available here.

April 5, 2021

Is your company's contact center technology up to snuff?

If the coronavirus crisis taught us anything, it’s that contact centers are in greater demand than ever before, with resources spread thin. That’s especially true as more consumers prefer contactless communication with enterprises as they increasingly choose e-commerce options over brick-and-mortar stores and offices.

Problem is, many companies aren’t able to satisfy the increased push for customer interaction via phone, text, chat, video, social media, or otherwise. The common culprit? Insufficient technologies and infrastructure, which can limit a business's ability to communicate efficiently with patrons and respond punctually to queries, complaints, and requests.

The experts agree: It’s time to take stock of your contact center’s technological capabilities, identify weaknesses, and implement multichannel solutions that keep pace with industry standards and consumer expectations. Learn more by reading my newest cover story for Destination CRM magazine, available here.

March 29, 2021

Why take out 3 loans? Finance the land, construction & mortgage all in one

If you want to build a home from the ground up, you typically need to secure and purchase a lot and then construct a home on it. That would normally entail getting one loan for the land and construction and a second loan for the mortgage on the finished residence.

But you can save time and money by pursuing a construction-to-permanent loan. This option simplifies the financing process by providing one loan and one closing. Caveats apply, however. You may pay a higher interest rate. A larger down payment may be required. And your lender may have additional requirements and restrictions.

Determine if a construction-to-permanent loan is right for you by learning more about what’s involved. For more information, read my latest article for NextAdvisor, Time Magazine’s new website featuring personal finance content and tips, available here.